Facts, Identification & Control
Although all spiders are capable of biting, most spider bites cause little harm to humans. However, bites from spiders such as the brown recluse can result in necrosis of tissue. Long-legged and yellow-tan in color, brown recluse spiders of both genders are best distinguished by a fiddle-shaped pattern on the cephalothorax and six eyes arranged in pairs. Both characters must be seen, since other spiders may only posses one or the other. Adults measure approximately 6 to 11 mm in length of body.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Brown recluse spiders dwell in dark, sheltered places and can be found in homes, barns and basements. Webs tend to appear disorganized and are built most commonly near ground level. The spider is a hunter, so the web is not intended to catch prey but instead roams around searching for prey. The brown recluse is found in the central southern part of the U.S., from Texas to the western most part of Florida.
Brown recluse spiders are shy and rarely bite unless provoked. Bites usually go unnoticed until effects manifest a few hours later. Most bites become red and fade away, but in uncommon cases necrosis or tissue damage can occur. A medical professional should be consulted if there are medical concerns.
Female brown recluses generate one to five egg sacs which can contain 31-300 eggs. Eggs usually hatch in about a month. Development from egg to adult is approximately a year.
Signs of a Brown Recluse Spider Infestation
The most likely sign of recluses are sightings of the spider.
Although urban myth purports that they are found throughout the U.S., studies have shown otherwise. Brown recluse spiders are endemic only to the American South and Midwest. Relocation of the brown recluse can occur in boxes or items moved from its native range. These usually are isolated events and do not result in an entire area becoming infested.
Many conditions are mistakenly diagnosed as brown recluse spider bites, including Lyme disease, diabetic ulcers, reactions to medication and bacterial infections.
Due to misinformation and fright, many people identify harmless spiders as brown recluses. They are also referred to as fiddleback spiders due to a distinctive marking on the thorax, which resembles a violin. Brown recluses have uniformly colored legs and abdomens; so any spider exhibiting distinct color variations and patterning on the legs or abdomen is not a brown recluse.
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